Gold Coast Airport Marathon

I have been wanting to try the Gold Coast Airport Marathon ever since I heard other runners raved about the nice scenic race route and cool climate that make it a PB course. So when Ascis offered a race slot for this event, I decided to go for it. It is my first Ascis sponsored event after all and the idea of running together with fellow Asics team mates excites me.

Training was quite erratic this time as compared to the previous time I was training for HKSCM. Ever since the Safra road relay in early March, Melvin trainer has adjusted the target paces for intervals and tempo runs according to our 1.6km results clocked during the road relay. With faster target times, intensity level went up too. On good days, I could managed a good, confidence booster workout. But more often than not, there were also a few workouts that I struggled through and left me disappointed when I could not meet the target time I set out to achieve. Once, I could not even complete 3 sets of (1.5km x 4 loops), giving up after two sets when I slowed to walk. It was then I realised I might be burnt out from the high intensity workouts on Tues and Thurs.

Long runs in March and April were quite smooth. Jackie and I managed at about 5-5:05″min/km pace for most of our runs ranging from 17km to 25km . However, towards mid April, I fell sick. Training seems to go downhill for me in May. There were a couple of times we just could not complete the distance we have initially set out to do. The longest run leading up to Sundown marathon was a mere 32km at ECP (we usually train up to 36km) which didn’t work out too well towards the last 10km and I struggled to finish it at a much slower pace. Sundown marathon which was supposed to be a lead up run for my GCAM was also a disappointment.

In June, work got busier and I have to skip some training with Safra. But I made sure I was still training consistently, squeezing in a run after work on my own. After all, I only have 4-5 weeks to prepare for Gold Coast Airport Marathon. I was more cautious this time because I knew I could easily fall sick again if I push too hard. I no longer attempt long runs at 5″/min, instead I ran with my feel and keep to average 5:15″/km pace. Jurong Lake Run was a confidence booster and I was glad to regain my fitness and arrive at Gold Coast feeling fresh and strong.

Kaifen, Alex, Brian (Alex’s friend whom Alex roped in to share accommodation with us) and I arrived at Gold Coast on Saturday morning. There was some delay in the flight and also the airport shuttle. After saying goodbye to Peyling and Priscilla, who took the same flight as us, but stayed at different places, we finally arrived at our motel. It was a nice spacious apartment for 5. Boon Wee, who arrived a day earlier was already in the apartment waiting for us.

After putting down our luggage, we grabbed a quick lunch and set off to the race expo to collect our race bibs. As the restaurants in Australia closes as early as 5pm, we did not stay for long at the expo.

Bumped into fellow Safra training mates at the race expo. With Peying, Priscilla and Sew Hyong  =)

Bumped into fellow Safra training mates at the race expo. With Peyling, Priscilla and Sew Hyong =)

Took the bus back to our area and we settled for subway for dinner. Then it was back to our motel to rest for the night. I think it was the first time I actually slept for 9 hours before a marathon. Other than waking up 3-4 times in the middle of night to use the bathroom, I had quite a good rest and woke up feeling recharged and excited.

Race day morning. It was cold! I pulled on layers of clothing and complete with a poncho over my body to keep myself warm. Our apartment was about 1km from the race venue, so we set off on foot at around 6 am in the morning. Some photo takings before we deposited our baggage. Visited the portable loos and headed to the race pen. Kaifen and I got the priority slot, so it was pretty easy for us to get into the pen. Saw many friends from Singapore too and we wished one another well for the race.

A photo before the race. All wrapped up with layers of clothing to keep warm.

A photo before the race. All wrapped up with layers of clothing to keep warm.

The weather got a little warmer by 7am. I decided it was not as cold and decided not to run with my gloves. The marathon started at 7.20 am. It was a perfect weather for run. I went with the flow and was pleasantly surprised to know I was already running at target race pace 4:30″/km at the first 1km. Saw Rachel and Poon Zili ran past us and disappeared into the crowd with the 3hrs pacers after a while. I was running alongside Kaifen and was comfortable with my pace so decided to just stick to it. At 5km, we reached Surfers Paradise. There were many supporters standing at the sides cheering for the runners. Turned into the stretch of private houses and soon 10km was over in a flash.

Kaifen and I were consistently hitting around 4:30″/km for our splits from 1st km to 10km according to my Garmin. However, the distance markers were always a few meters ahead, so we were probably closer to average 4:31″/km pace. I didn’t think too much then but I realised I should have tried to hit 4:30″/km at the distance markers rather than based on my Garmin splits because the few meters difference turned up to be quite a lot of difference by the time I reached the half way mark and means I would not be able to finish the marathon in 3:10 hr at the end.

At around my 12 km mark, I could see many elite runners on the other side of the running route. Was very happy to spot my idol, Yuki Kawachi. He was running alone, looking very focused. I like the race route because you get to see many other runners at the other side at various points. Spotted a few familiar faces, like Jianyong, Rachel when we were running towards to the u-turn point at the 15 km mark. All is well at the first u-turn as Kaifen and myself were still keeping to average 4:29-4:30″/km pace as planned. Spotted a lot more friends after this u-turn, Joe, Richard, Zhilei, Weisian, Peyling, Elaine, Voon Ho on the other side.

It was the same route back to the start point to hit 30km. The race course was unexpectedly undulating though, some ups and downs along the private houses. Not as flat as what I heard from most people. Fortunately, they were short inclines. Kaifen was no longer running alongside with me after the u-turn, but I knew she was close behind. I ran on, hoping that she would catch up. I decided not take my salt capsule as planned at the 18km mark since I was not perspiring as profusely as I thought I would be. Soon, I arrived at the halfway point at 21 km. The clock read 1:35:33. It was then I realised we were 33 seconds off target, despite keeping to average 4:30″/km pace based on Garmin. As much as I wanted to finish in 3:10hr for the marathon, I was afraid to increase my pace when it’s not 30km yet. Another “mistake” because I could have probably shave more time if I increase my pace earlier at this stage when I still feel good. A veteran male runner ran past and we chatted and ran for a while together. He got faster and I hold back, aiming to keep him in sight. I was beginning to feel tired and keeping to 4:30″/km did not feel as smooth as before. I looked for other female runners ahead as targets. When I saw a pack of runners ahead, I also tried to run behind the pack and let them pull me along.

Finally, I was back at Surfers Paradise. Average pace on my Garmin has dropped to 4:31″/km. There were more cameras along the way and I smile at all that I could see. The next 5km was a daze, but eventually I reached 30km mark and was looking out for our number one supporter, Alex. Time check at 30km, 2hr 17min. No good, time seems too tight if I’m still targeting for a 3:10 marathon.

Happy to see Alex after the 30km mark.

Happy to see Alex after the 30km mark.

Someone cheered for me, I suspect it was Alice since Richard was racing too, but I was too exhausted to turn and check. Not long after, I saw Alex on the pavement, taking photos of me and cheering for me as ran past. It was another uphill ahead, and I got a shock when my split read 4:36″/km. At the rate I’m running, I’m not even sure if I could do a PB (sub 3:14). I ran on and with a few more splits at 4:35″/km, my average pace dropped to 4:32″/km. Saw Wen Long at the other side and shouted jiayou to him.

At 35km, my Garmin reflected a split time of 4:35″/min. Then it got stuck at this screen for a long time. I tried pressing the buttons but in vain. Eventually, I switched to the clock mode, showing the real time. I did some calculations in my head. To finish in 3:10hrs, means I had to reach the finishing point at 10.30 am. Without being able to read my current pace, I ran based on feel this time. I was looking forward to the next u-turn point which is the 36.5km mark. Spotted Poon Zili, who looked very happy and fresh on the other side. No doubt a PB run for him. Knowing that Rachel should be not far behind, I kept a lookout for her. True enough, spotted her not long after, she has slowed down quite a bit but still looking good too. Motivated, I sped up, hoping to close the gap between us. The u-turn was further away than I thought and I knew it’s quite impossible to finish in 3:10hr. Made the u-turn and was glad to see Kaifen pressing on, on the other side of the route, despite her flu and sore eye. I ran on and spotted Joe, Richard and Boon Wee along the way as well.

At 40km mark, I no longer know what was the pace I was running at. I only know that the clock was ticking and I had to run a lot faster to finish as close to 10.30 am as possible. Gave my all at the last 2 km and came home in 3:11:06 (net time). A tab disappointed that I did not meet my target 3:10 hrs for the marathon, but overall still satisfied that I managed to finish the race strongly and shave about 3mins from my last PB of 3:14.

Was pleasantly surprised that Run Society wrote about Singapore Runners at GCAM2014 too. Check out:-http://www.runsociety.com/2014/07/15/singapore-runners-set-record-times-at-gold-coast-airport-marathon-2014/

Check out my splits! Slowed down too much betw 30 to 35km. But yhis was probably the most even half way splits I ever did for a marathon. Just a second difference!

Check out my splits! Slowed down too much betw 15km to 20km and 30 to 35km. But this was probably the most even half way splits I ever did for a marathon. Just a second difference.

Happy to complete the marathon in a good time!

Happy to complete the marathon in a good time!

A nice photo from Run Society after the race.

A nice photo from Run Society after the race. From left to right: Zi Li, Rachel, Me, Kaifen, Wenlong and Alex

Met Mr Tadashi from Asics Japan for the first time. Thanks to Kaifen to introduce him to us.

Met Mr Tadashi from Asics Japan for the first time. Thanks to Kaifen for introducing him to us and getting the VIP passes for us.

Wide variety of food at the VIP lounge!

With Asics team mates, Alex and Kaifen. Wide variety of food at the VIP lounge!

The day just got better! We met Yuki Kawachi at the VIP lounge and requested for a photo with him =)

The day just got better! We met Yuki Kawauchi at the VIP lounge and requested for a photo with him. He’s so nice to agree to it! =)

A solo pic with my idol! He came in 3rd in 2:11:27 for the marathon despite a fall during the race.

And a solo pic with the Citizen Runner! Yuki came in 3rd place in 2:11:27 for the marathon despite a fall during the race. Respect!

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